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The Commodore 64: For the Masses Not the Classes

Dr Kenny McAlpine discusses the origins of Commodore Business Machines and its iconic home computer, the C64.

Commodore’s C64 was a musical powerhouse. Its Sound Interface Device – the famous SID chip – gave it the functions of a three-channel digital synthesiser.

In this video, we’ll look the development of the Commodore 64, and how its feature set came about because of cheap calculator chips and the video game crash.

Once you’ve completed the video step, I’d like you to consider the impact of the SID on video game development, and particularly video game music development.

The complexity of the C64 sound hardware, coupled with an awkward implementation of the BASIC programming language, made it very difficult for users to play with the sound on the machine. And the technical element was just one aspect of the chip. To really get the most out of it, you had to code it with a high degree of musicality. As a result, it was on the Commodore 64 that the role of video composer became more specialised and more professionalised. Was this a positive or negative development?

Please post your thoughts to the comments section below.

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Video Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music: Video Game Sound and Music

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